Soldiers in the National Guard stationed in the District of Columbia have had their authority greatly enhanced by being allowed to use lethal weapons in the event of serious riots and attacks.
Security has been beefed up throughout Washington, D.C., following last Wednesday’s attempted takeover of the U.S. Capitol and on the eve of the president’s inauguration. Weapons are already being distributed to National Guard soldiers, and 20,000 soldiers will be able to use them – authorities are preparing for repeated outbreaks of violence after last week’s events.
“On Jan. 12, 2021, National Guardsmen were authorized to be armed in support of the U.S. Capitol Police to protect the building and individual members of Congress and their staffs,” the D.C. National Guard said in a statement.
A Defense Department spokesman confirmed that the authorization included permission for Guard troops to use weapons. The request came from federal authorities and was approved by Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who oversees the deployment of the D.C. Guard.
The Guard force has so far performed an unarmed support role, such as traffic direction and logistics, to free up more civilian law enforcement personnel to protect the Capitol and other important facilities in D.C. Now the Guardsmen can perform all defense functions.